1 January 2017
Yesterday evening, Hedda and I joined friends for a New Year’s Eve dinner party in Lyme Regis. After a spectacularly good meal, followed by bonfires and fireworks on the beach at midnight for those who wanted to go (we had Ted with us so stayed behind) we re-gathered for a quiet hour contemplating the old year and the new.
Looking back, we discussed the implications of Brexit and Trump and grieved the loss of so many fine creative talents in 2016. We also asked each other what had been personally important during the year and I realised that completing certain cycles in connection with mourning Chris’s death had been hugely significant.
I concluded my long peregrination with her ashes on 3 December, the second anniversary of her death. Coincidentally, I finished writing a book based on the experience of bereavement and sent it off to a publisher just before Christmas. Fundraising in her memory for Penny Brohn Cancer Care came to a close after reaching the target of £5,000, and the story that I wrote for her when she was ill in hospital was accepted for publication as a children’s book.
As all these endings were coming together, I also experienced wonderful new beginnings: meeting and falling in love with Hedda, who brings me such joy; dreaming together into a shared creative life of story and song; committing to my own life as a writer with many more stories to tell and books to write; singing with a choir for the first time in my life; and on a practical note, starting the badly-needed renovation and extension of Folly Cottage.
When it came to considering what we wanted to achieve and how we want to be in 2017 we turned to a miniature oracle, created by our host artist Hugh Dunford Wood, in the form of a branch with paper leaves each bearing an injunction. We took it in turns to pluck several leaves, sight unseen. I ended up with three:
Don’t fail your hopes
At the time, we laughed that they seemed rather morose compared with some of the more upbeat messages others had received, but they have lodged themselves firmly in my mind. Stay open to the suffering of the world, they seem to say. Work to create that for which you hope. Above all, in the year of Donald Trump, persist in your belief that love ultimately trumps fear.
On reflection, it strikes me that the injunctions of the oracle offer a way to light a candle in dark times and I decide to take them seriously as a rubric for 2017, to hold them as touchstones for right-living as I go about my life. Thank you Hugh for this gift.
Love and light to all from me and Captain Midnight.
Happy New Year!